Gus Gordon – “Herman & Rosie” – a tale on many levels

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“Harry the Dirty Dog” was one of Gus’ favourite books as a kid.  Richard Scarry’s “Busy, Busy World” also inspired Gus, he thought it was so much fun.  “The Wind in the Willows” interested Gus as the levels of comprehension change as we grow older.  He also really loves the characters in the story.  Gus has a particular interest in line drawing, and was greatly inspired by Quentin Blake.  Gus particularly likes the ‘loose line’ effect used by the likes of Quentin.

Gus talked us through “Herman & Rosie”.  He said that you must grab the attention of readers immediately, and this starts with the end papers.  Gus used a map of New York with labels showing where Herman and Rosie live in “Herman & Rosie”.

Gus realised early on that he had a dual narrative in this story.  He found it challenging balancing the narrative of each character, but obviously he overcame this.  He talked us through each double page spread, explaining how he did different elements of each illustration and why.  Gus explained that he used music throughout the story to connect Herman and Rosie, hence his use of musical notes in the illustrations. He told us of his determination to source authentic items for this book, such as the old postcards from New York.  I can imagine that it is a bit like a treasure hunt.  Gus explained how he drew Herman and Rosie’s stories together by synchronising some of the things they did, such as each of them watching their entire Jacques Cousteau film collection.  Gus has been asked many times why he chose a crocodile and a deer for his characters.  He said it was strange, but he said that the characters came to him.  He showed us some of the early sketches from Herman and Rosie to indicate how the characters were developed.

Gus gave us a really visually detailed insight into how be builds his illustrations.  Seeing his artwork on the big screen was a real treat.  He explained that he draws pictures and then scans them into his computer.   He said that he never colours on the computer as the images come out quite flat.  He said that some pictures have hundreds of layers.

Next it was our turn to create.  First we were encouraged to draw a scruffy dog without our arms touching the paper.

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Then we had to draw a woman getting her clothes off the clothes line.  With our left hands.  I was worried.  (I am not showing you a photo of what I drew, it was atrocious).

Sadly we ran out of time to do anymore artwork, I think we all could have stayed for another couple of hours.  I look forward to having another chance to see Gus at work, he is phenomenal at what he does.  To find out more about Gus, click HERE

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